The Best Pumpkin Cake

Prep 15 mins
Cook 40 mins
Add'l 45 mins
Total 1 hr 40 mins
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

This easy Pumpkin Cake has three layers of super moist, spiced pumpkin cake, made completely from scratch. The whole thing is finished off with a maple frosting and decorated with mini pumpkin candies.

Easy Homemade Pumpkin Cake

This gorgeously stacked cake is the BEST PUMPKIN CAKE YOU WILL EVER EAT. I know, that’s a big claim. But it’s really true – just read all the comments or photo reviews on Pinterest.

My family has been making this pumpkin cake recipe for years. It has been tried and test and approved every time! This cake is perfectly spiced, extra moist, and coated in a sweet cream cheese frosting.

If you’re looking for the perfect fall cake to get your baking fix in, give this recipe a try. I promise you won’t be dissapointed.

Pumpkin Cake ingredients in bowls.

Key Ingredients

There are a few important ingredients needed for this pumpkin cake recipe to be a success. Here’s a quick overview with my notes. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for the full ingredient list with amounts.

  • Pumpkin pie spice – Technically this is optional but I like to use pumpkin pie spice as it’s a great combination of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice. You can substitute it with plain cinnamon if that is what you have on hand.
  • Vanilla extract – Make sure you use pure vanilla extract, not imitation.
  • Canned pumpkin – Like most pumpkin baking recipes, you want to use pure canned pumpkin puree. Don’t use pumpkin pie filling as they are not the same thing. This pumpkin cake recipe uses an entire 15 oz can of pumpkin, so no worries about wasting or having any leftovers!!
  • Vegetable oil – You can also use canola oil. If you are against oil in cakes, you can substitute apple sauce in its place. However, know that the cake texture will be fluffier.
  • Milk – Any kind of milk will work.
The Best Pumpkin Cake: three layers of super moist, spiced pumpkin cake, made completely from scratch, frosted with a sweet cinnamon maple cream cheese icing! #PumpkinCake #Pumpkin #PumpkinDessert #Dessert #PumpkinRecipes #FallRecipes #Thanksgiving #ThanksgivingDessert
Pumpkin cake batter in a bowl with a spatula.

How to Make This Pumpkin Cake

You’ll be surprised to know that even though this cake looks fancy, it’s super simple to make! Here’s how:

Make the Cake

  • Prep your tools. Preheat oven to 300°F. Grease 3, 8-inch round cake pans. Set aside.
  • Mix dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, mix flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • Combine wet ingredients. In a large bowl/stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla, pumpkin, and vegetable oil.
  • Add dry ingredients and milk. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk.
  • Bake. Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool. Remove pans from oven and place in freezer for 45 minutes to cool. (This step is optional, you can let the cake cool on the counter instead if you prefer.)

Make the Frosting and Decorate

  • Cream butter and cream cheese. In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  • Add flavorings. Beat in maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon.
  • Add confectioners’ sugar. Beat on low speed until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth.
  • Assemble the 3 layers with a thick layer of frosting in between each layer. Then apply a thin crumb coat* on the top and sides. Pop back in the freezer to harden the crumb coat for about 10 minutes.
  • Apply one final thick and even layer around the outside of the cake. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

What is a Crumb Coat?

A crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting called that seals in stray crumbs before a second frosting layer is applied. Remember to chill the crumb coat before applying the second layer of frosting.

Pumpkin Cake with cream cheese icing with pumpkin candies on top with thyme like a vine.

Crazy Tips to Keep This Pumpkin Cake Moist

  • Bake this cake at 300°F. Unlike traditional cakes, this pumpkin cake recipe is baked at 300°F. Baking a cake at a lower temperature slows the rapidness of the leavening, which prevents a tall dome from forming on your cake. It also keeps the cake extra moist since it doesn’t rise too much or too quickly.
  • Cool it in the freezer. This helps to stop the cooking process much quicker and keep the cake moist.

Second, as soon as these cakes come out of the oven, pop them into the freezer.

Decorating Your Cake

For the frosting, I added a quick cream cheese icing that is flavored with cinnamon, real maple syrup and vanilla extract. It is the same frosting that I use for my pumpkin sheet cake.

However, if you prefer, you can use a classic cream cheese frosting. The combo will still be delicious! To create the swirls on the outside of the cake with the frosting, I use the round end of a rubber spatula and swirl it.

Once your cake is frosted, I like to use pumpkin candies, fresh sprigs of thyme and a few pepitas for decoration. You could also use chocolate shavings or even a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

Three slices of pumpkin cake on white plates.

Want to Make Pumpkin Cupcakes With This Recipe?

When I originally posted this recipe people would often ask me: Can I make cupcakes with this cake recipe?

The answer is: YES! You can! In fact, I did it for you! I love this cake so much that I have even made it into cupcakes: Pumpkin Maple Cupcakes!

However, I will tell you, I personally love the layer dream cake just a little bit more. It stays moist and has the perfect amount of frosting-to-cake.

A slice of pumpkin cake in front of a frosted layer pumpkin cake with a slice taken out.

This Pumpkin Cake is one of my most popular pumpkin recipes ever. It is second only to my favorite Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins. Everyone comes back and makes it year after year for their families and that is the greatest compliment I could ever receive. I promise everyone is going to LOVE it and beg for the recipe!

Yield: 8 servings

Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Dream Cake: three big layers of super moist pumpkin spiced cake, made completely from scratch, frosted with a sweet cinnamon maple cream cheese icing! #Pumpkin #Cake #Dessert #FallRecipes #PumpkinRecipes

This is the BEST Pumpkin Cake I have ever made! It’s a three layer cake of super moist pumpkin cake and a crazy delicious cinnamon cream cheese frosting! 

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Additional Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 12 oz (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 6 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Grease 3, 8-inch round cake pans. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl/stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla, pumpkin and vegetable oil. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk.
  4. Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and immediately place in freezer for 45 minutes. (This keeps the cake moist by immediately stopping the baking so the cake does not continue to bake when you remove it form the oven.)
  5. For the frosting: In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth.
  6. Assemble the 3 layers with a thick layer of frosting in between each layer. Then apply a thin crumb coat on the top and sides. Pop back in the freezer to harden the crumb coat for about 10 minutes.
  7. Apply one final thick and even layer around the outside of the cake. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1297Total Fat: 58gSaturated Fat: 31gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 205mgSodium: 694mgCarbohydrates: 178gFiber: 2gSugar: 137gProtein: 18g

Categories

Pumpkin Dream Cake: three big layers of super moist pumpkin spiced cake, made completely from scratch, frosted with a sweet cinnamon maple cream cheese icing! #Pumpkin #Cake #Dessert #FallRecipes #PumpkinRecipes

Here is the original photo for the Pumpkin Dream Cake! Just in case you came here from Pinterest, this is the same recipe! I updated the post in August 2018, but the recipe is still the exact same!

The Best Pumpkin Cake: three layers of super moist, spiced pumpkin cake, made completely from scratch, frosted with a sweet cinnamon maple cream cheese icing! #PumpkinCake #Pumpkin #PumpkinDessert #Dessert #PumpkinRecipes #FallRecipes #Thanksgiving #ThanksgivingDessert

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

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Comments

499 Responses
  1. Tracy

    No pumpkin pie spice in the ingredient list!! Thank goodness I noticed before I added in the dry ingredients… Pumpkin cake wouldn’t be the same without the spice!

  2. Leslie

    I’ve made the cupcake version and it was delicious and a huge hit at my daughter’s baby shower end of October.

  3. Michelle

    I am so looking forward to making this cake for a crowd and I would like to make it in a 9×13” pan. Has anyone done this? I can’t see why it wouldn’t work.

    1. A woman holding a camera standing in front of some shelves.
      Jessica

      3 8-inch cake pans. You could also use 9-inch cake pans, they will bake quicker though, so keep an eye on them!

  4. Shannon

    AMAZING!! Such an easy quick cake-total hit at Thanksgiving this year! Thank you for sharing this recipe! Certainly making it again-not just a holiday cake ♥️

  5. Shannon

    Wow, this cake turned out GREAT. My husband requested a pumpkin cake for his birthday and this was perfect. I opted to use applesauce instead of oil because I’ve had trouble keeping my cakes fluffy in the past, so anything that can help is great in my book. I also used oat milk instead of regular because he’s lactose intolerant. Can’t even tell. It stayed moist for days. He says he wants this every year now!

  6. Vickie

    A friend sent me this recipe and it sounds awesome. I don’t use vegetable oil. Can you tell me a replacement?

    Thank you

  7. Brenda Millirons

    Just made the pumpkin cake last night and it’s good but because of the low temperature I had to leave it in over an hour. The problem with that was that I had walked away too near to the end of it being done and got busy doing something else so I’m going to make the cake with frosting for Thanksgiving and I will pay very close attention to the time. It’s a good cake recipe but you need to really pay close attention to it.

    1. A woman holding a camera standing in front of some shelves.
      Jessica

      Hi Brianne! I’m sorry, that is a very different preparation of this cake and I have not tried it to be able to recommend it or not. Good luck!

  8. Writerr

    My family had been craving pumpkin. Pumpkin like real pumpkin, not artificial flavoring. The man did this top the charts! I made this cake and OMG!! Amazing!!! The cream cheese frosting, not too sweet pairs perfectly with the super moist cake. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Regards
    Wristerr

  9. Danish

    I made this cake exactly as per the recipe with the cream cheese frosting for Thanksgiving this weekend. My family (14 of us kids included) is raving about it! They’ve said it’s better than pumpkin pie, and was the highlight of their Thanksgiving meal. Blown away!

    Regards
    Danish

  10. Michaela

    The cake turned out absolutely amazing! The texture is so moist and the butter cream is yum! Thank you for sharing it ❤️

  11. Sharla Eley

    Hi! Just made this cake. My cakes did not rise as much as the picture shows. Hope it still turns out well. Any ideas what may have happened? Followed recipe exactly and watched the video. Thanks!

  12. Leanne

    Ok so I hardly ever leave comments but I HAD to for this. THIS IS SO GOOD!!!!! OMG. I’m making it for a customer order and I don’t want to send it out the door. So so so good! Keeping this baby handy for all the pumpkin cake needs. THANKS!!!

  13. Kathleen

    Can you possibly give me the cooking temperature and time if I made a two-layer (9 inch) cake? I do not have 8 inch cake pans. I am new here, but have made a few of your recipes and LOVE THEM. Thanks!!

  14. Jamie

    I absolutely love this recipe and have made it several times, but I have never had enough batter to make those three huge layers. I suggest doubling the recipe if you want to replicate the photo. 

  15. Dasha

    Hi Barbara,
    I love this cake too. I noticed no person answered in your comment so I will. A crumb coat is the first layer of frosting you placed on the pinnacle and sides of a cake. It commonly is very skinny and it prevents the crumbs from the cake moving into the very last layer (2d layer) of frosting you placed on the cake. That manner no crumbs will appear for your frosting while the cake is finished. Good luck!

    1. Pool Slide

      I made this cake for a birthday party and it was a huge success! I was astonished at how much people like what by looking at ingredients may seem like a pretty simple cake. This cake is seriously delicious! The first time I made it was for the first Thanksgiving I spent with my husband’s family, and I’ve been making it ever since for the past 5 years.

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Welcome!

Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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